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I’ve noticed recently that I’ve been getting guilted by my workplace to run errands for free.

To give some background: if I’m asked to bring say milk in, in the morning, I’ll consider my working hours to start when I enter the shop and turn up 10 minutes ‘late’ with the milk. I think that’s fair and my work has been okay with that.

On the other hand, on the days where I’m locking up my pay stops the second we are officially closed. But before that second I need to have computer on, printer on, phones on etc and there’s a lot of the shutting down process for the building I can’t start till these are all off. So I always end up doing unpaid overtime on the nights I close and I’ve shrugged it off because it’s not a ton of time, and I guess I’ve accepted it as just the way things are.

These are my usual experiences with ‘extra work’ demands. However I’ve noticed that I’m often being asked to run errands as I’m leaving the building on the days I don’t close - such as going to a post office or things that would take me out of my way. My work is expecting me to do this for free. We have to apply if we’re going to request overtime pay and it needs to be cleared with the manager. So if for some reason I did an extra hour one day - maybe if a staff member took ill - I wouldn’t get paid because I didn’t have advance clearance.

I’ve been saying no to these errands as Ive finished work. But other staff members are acting like I’m being really selfish. How can I handle these requests in a way that will diffuse aggro and/or how can I speak to staff/manager about not making these requests of me in the first place?

(I know this may seem like a small thing, but I have a very busy life, work 2 jobs, and I work harder than most if not all of the staff on my team when I’m in - a lot of them sit about and chat for prolonged periods of time. I feel that they should be running these errands since they’re still on the clock and getting paid.)

  • If you see someone is having less (or no) work while you are expected / asked to handle multiple works (more than what ix expected) - instead of directly accepting / refusing - are you in a position to delegate the work? – Sourav Ghosh May 20 '19 at 13:47
  • Read this 'locking up " story before - within the last week or so... – Solar Mike May 20 '19 at 13:48
  • For normal daily work there are multiple tasks and we can work on whichever we like but the team is supposed to get them all done collectively. I’m not that bothered about what the others do as long as I do my work, but in this context I thought it was worth mentioning that I feel they could get these errands done that are being given to me after I’ve finished. – Powqui May 20 '19 at 13:52
  • If a solution was given I’d be interested in reading it, though it’s not the main issue at hand for me currently. – Powqui May 20 '19 at 13:53
  • Do any of your coworkers do similar errands, and if so, are the circumstances of those errands similar to when you do them? – Upper_Case May 20 '19 at 14:39
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First, you need to know what you want. Wanting someone else to do an errand is not a good goal. You might simply want never to do these errands again. (What do you care who does them if it's not you?) Or, you might want to do them only a "fair" amount - if there are 5 of you, to do them 1/5th of the time, for example. Or you might want to be paid for doing them. This might be in the form of overtime pay, or in the form of a promotion/raise/title-change that recognizes that you close up a lot, run errands a lot, and so you are putting in more work and should get more money than those who don't.

Once you know what you want, you need to try to understand the point of view of the person who is currently asking you to do these errands. Are you perhaps more trustworthy than the others? More reliable? Less likely to forget? More likely to say yes? Observe for a week or so. What happens when other people do those errands?

Once you know what you want and you think you know why you are being asked more than the others, you can ask for a few moments with your manager. At this point you can say something polite, respectful, and understanding that is not just complaining but is asking for what you want. Some examples:

As you know, I close two nights a week and on those days I know that even though I'm only paid until 5, I'm going to work until 5:15 doing the closing tasks. I'm ok with that, I'm honoured to be a keyholder, and I know it's a path towards management some day. So I plan my travel, my other work, my family responsibilities, and so on, to account for those unpaid 15 minutes. Lately, on non-closing days, I've been asked for other bits of unpaid time at the end of the day - going to the post office and such - and these are much harder to plan for and predict. I have a lot of other responsibilities and unexpected extra time like that is disruptive. Is there a way I could do those errands at the end of the day without extra time? Like leaving at 4:45 to do the errand and then head home?

Or: is there a way I can be compensated for that extra time, if not in overtime per se then perhaps in a raise of my overall rate?

Or: is there a way I can be sure I won't be asked to do errands on non-closing days when my other responsibilities may be counting on my finishing work promptly?

See how this contains nothing about who should do it instead of you, who works the hardest, or a lot of other details from your question? That's deliberate. That stuff is your manager's job. Let them do it. And see how it ends with asking for what you want? That's also super important. Make it easy for your boss to say "sure, that sounds fair" or "ooh, I can't do that, how about X instead" -- don't force them to interview you to see what you want.

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  • Thanks for your comment. I want to only run errands during work hours and not in my own personal time. I’m happy to go out while I’m on the clock as I believe anyone should be. Sorry if I didn’t make this too clear. I’ll take your advice in speaking to my manager. – Powqui May 20 '19 at 19:32
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As long as you did not hear about these responsibilities when you agreed to this position, it shouldn't be hard to drop them as long as you approach the matter in the right way with your manager. However, whether this will hold repercussions for you is a whole another matter. You have to ask yourself if, even without these things being done by you, you're an attribute to the company. If you do nothing wrong and are a hard worker, rejecting these extra tasks should hold no (financial) consequences, although your co-workers may not be so happy if they have to replace you.

I suggest not entirely rejecting the tasks, but pushing for every employee to do the same amount of tidying up. If the task is split between every worker, you will not have to do it as often and it's impact will not be as noticeable to your daily life.

I understand that someone needs to be responsible for end-of-day, yet I am finding it deeply troubling that these tasks are not split equally amongst our team when we are all in the same position. I can't continue to be the only one contributing my spare time, so I ask that alternative arrangements are made by [some date].

There were times in my life where I had to close up past my working hours, but it also was made clear when I took this position, and at that age it was a good wage to earning even with that extra half-an-hour at the end of the day. However, it was the same with all managers.

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